Today I met with two young detectives from my former community. I have gone through a tremendous range of emotions from being overwhelmed with sadness, a sadness that literally hurts as it fills me up... to feeling completely dead inside... to feeling encouraged, stronger than ever and more courageous than I ever fathomed I could be. I've experienced this entire range of emotion in the last 48 hours while anticipating the interview with the detectives. I cannot express how significant the interview is to me. For 12 years, I have been silent about my incident. I've felt guilty for not speaking out and ashamed of myself for not having the courage to do so. Seeing the Steubenville case unfold only intensified the feeling of guilt I have harbored. I know that it seems right initially to try to correct this emotional response by telling me that it isn't my fault that this happened to me or if it has happened to anyone else since. But, that's simply not true.
It is absolutely not my fault that this happened to me. I will accept zero victim shaming, blaming or any form of finger pointing directed at me to try and hold me responsible for what those boy did to me that night. I will also stand up and project an even more important message, which is that it is my problem that rape is going unpunished in my country. It is something I am responsible for.
This message is so important that we all need to own our role in the society that this is happening in. We are responsible for not demanding that this change and taking action to make it change. Every single person who silently stands by and is aware that a culture of rape exists is responsible. YOU HAVE TACITLY COMPLIED WITH THE CODES OF SILENCE THAT THE EDIFICE OF THE CULTURE OF RAPE RELIES ON. For 12 years, I have been guilty of adhering to the codes of silence.
I could not watch Steubenville unfold before my eyes without taking action when something so similar happened to me. To remain silent would be equivalent to throwing my integrity out the window. The proper emotional response is sadness, anger, and guilt, when my inaction has enlarged the space for rape to happen within, in such a particular way in Jane Doe’s and my case. Wallowing in that place, though, is not healthy or productive. This is something that the 12 years between now and my rape has given me the space to understand.
I have had the time to mourn my particular assault, and the time for justice in my case is only just beginning. So, I can quickly turn that guilt, sadness, and responsibility into action, advocacy, and activism. We no longer can make excuses for ourselves. Americans pride themselves on being the leaders of the free world. It's time for us to lead the world into an era where our daughters aren't more likely to be sexually assaulted than not.
Coming forward about my incident; uttering the names and exactly what was done to me, (though in not great detail because I have only been able to write about it) took me over the threshold from being part of the problem to being part of the change that is, and I will make sure of it, moving toward an enduring solution.
Posted 4 weeks ago by Amanda Stevenson